Minister Flanagan and Minister Madigan welcome passage of the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill 2016 through the Dáil


3 April 2019



The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, have welcomed the passage of the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill 2016 through the Dáil.  The Bill will now go to the Seanad for consideration. 


If the Bill is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, a referendum will be held on 24 May, the same day as the Local and European Parliament elections, asking the people to agree to allow the Oireachtas to legislate to reduce the separation period for couples wishing to divorce to two years out of three and to modernise the constitutional clause on recognition of foreign divorces.  The constitutional protections in respect of proper provision, no reasonable prospect of reconciliation and the role of the Court will remain.


Minister Flanagan said:

“I want to thank colleagues on all sides of the House for their support for the Government’s referendum proposal and for their cooperation in the passage of the Bill.  At the heart of this proposal is a desire to ease the burden on people whose marriages have broken down.  The current constitutional provisions mean that couples frequently go through the process of a separation agreement or judicial separation before divorcing, adding cost and stress to an already sad and difficult situation.  We have a low divorce rate and that is very welcome but where couples wish to divorce, they are being left for too long in a legal limbo.”  


Minister Madigan, who originally introduced the Bill before her appointment to Cabinet said:

“I am delighted that this Bill, which I introduced from the backbenches, has now been passed by the Dáil.  As a family law solicitor, I am very conscious of the additional pain, suffering and expense that couples and their families go through while waiting for four years before they can apply for divorce.  The countless cases of marital breakdown that I encountered when working as a solicitor motivated me to seek this legal change.  I am pleased the Bill is now ready to be considered by the Seanad.”



Note to Editors:


1. Amend Article 41.3.2 of the Constitution to remove the minimum living apart period for spouses seeking a divorce; and

2. Replace the current text of Article 41.3.3 with a provision to allow the Oireachtas to legislate for the recognition under the law of the State of a divorce granted under the civil law of another state